Students from Toronto’s Holy Spirit Catholic School braved the elements to deliver Christmas carols in their neighbourhood Dec. 4. Photo by Evan Boudreau

Student carollers get life lessons outside of class

  • December 21, 2015

TORONTO - On a wet and windy early December night the leadership team from Holy Spirit Catholic School set out with a group of 27 students from the northeast Toronto school to carol in the surrounding neighbourhood.

The idea was to show the students how faith plays a part in their everyday lives, said school principal Paddy Morgan.

“It was about the kids getting out into the community and making a statement about who they are, what matters to them and how their faith perspective animates what they do,” said Morgan. “Some of the kids got very animated. They were actually dancing and singing at the same time.”

The 27 students from Holy Spirit were joined by a handful of volunteers from the youth ministry program at St. Theresa’s parish, Morgan’s parish.

Among those from St. Theresa’s was Margaret Kerr, a retired public school principal who not only volunteers with the group but also provides music for the monthly Mass at Holy Spirit. She praised the school for actively engaging the students in faith-based activities.

“It is critical to have them actively engaging in their faith,” she said. “Faith-based activities, not just based on religious knowledge but the actual application of it. That is part of living out what you believe.”

During the three weeks of classes in December, the school was in the Christmas spirit with a living Nativity and a special Christmas Mass to go along with the evening of carolling.

“This is a really happening school,” said Kerr. “It is really nice to be in a school that is demonstrating its faith this way.”

Adding an element of charity to their carolling, students asked those who listened for non-perishable food donations.

“It is great that we are doing this,” said 13-year-old Jeremy Tubongbangua. “There are some people out there who do not have as much as we do but they are still human. They still deserve food.”

Over the course of an hour they collected enough food to fill a small City of Toronto recycling bin.

Although Tubongbangua said singing is not his strong suit, the Grade 8 student was excited to share his faith with the broader community.

“We get to go out and go to other places that we normally don’t go to and meet other people that we don’t normally get to,” he said. “It is better to experience this while we are still little so when we grow up it will be a common thing to do.”

And while the importance of collecting for charity is not to be understated, it was never the real purpose for going out to carol, said Morgan.

“It was never about how much food we were going to collect,” he said. “It was not about coming here to socialize. It was about serving and making a difference.

“The kids got that.”

And while their intentions were to spread cheer, not everyone welcomed the students’ singing on their doorstep. But the kids didn’t let that dampen their spirits, said Morgan.

“There was a number of doors that got opened and closed right away,” said Morgan. “But the kids were staying positive and upbeat because they were taking comfort in their camaraderie. That is a life lesson for all of us, that we should surround people that share our vision and will encourage us even when things get challenging.”

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